Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Captain's Stromboli!

Derek Jeter. The guy epitomizes how professional athletes should conduct themselves on and off the field. Great player, great teammate and great guy with rockin' good looks. This week marks the end of an illustrious 20-year career that has seen him stay loyal to one team, break records and pick up, oh, about 5 World Series rings along the way. Whether you're a Yankee fan or not, ya gotta show a little love to The Captain.

While MLB showered Jeter with some pretty cool parting gifts throughout the season, no one came close to the culinary tribute that Homegating101 is about to bestow on #2:  The Captain's Stromboli.

The Captain's Stromboli is a mixture of all that Derek Jeter is about: smooth, yet complex. This stromboli is filled with mozzarella, pepperoni, roasted peppers, sauteed mushrooms and provolone cheese. It's all wrapped up in pizza dough, baked and sliced. Perfect finger good. Sounds like a home run to me.

For this recipe I used pre-made pizza dough and a jar of roasted peppers, but you can certainly make your own for both if you have the time. I sauteed fresh mushrooms, but again, you can use canned mushrooms if you'd like. A jar of pickled mushrooms would work really well, too.

The Captain's Stromboli
(serves 4-6 people)                    

6 oz shredded mozzarella
1/2 lb sliced deli pepperoni  (not the little pre-sliced disks that come in the package)
1/2 lb sliced provolone
2-3 roasted red bell peppers, or 1 jar of roasted red bell peppers drained and patted dry
8 oz mushrooms (any kind) sauteed with minced fresh garlic, or 1 8oz jar of pickled mushrooms, drained
1 lb pizza dough
1/4 cup flour for counter
olive oil
sheet pan
parchment paper or non-stick aluminum foil


1.  Pre-heat oven to 425-degrees. Place the parchment or aluminum foil on a sheet pan.

2.  Bring the pizza dough to room temperature. Sprinkle the flour on a flat surface and roll the dough out to about a 1/16" thickness. You want to try to keep the dough as close to a rectangle shape as possible. Place the parchment paper in the sheet pan and lay the dough on the parchment.

3.  Sprinkle the mozzarella down the middle of the dough, then lay the pepperoni over that, then the roasted peppers, sauteed mushrooms and finally the provolone.

4.  Bring one side of the dough over the top of the filling and then bring the other side of the dough over that. Pinch the seams closed and roll over to place the seam on the bottom the pan. Make a couple of slits along the top of the dough. Brush the entire roll with olive oil.

5.  Place the stromboli in the oven. Depending on how hot your oven gets, start checking the stromboli after about 15 minutes. You want the crust to be golden. The cheese and/or the pepperoni might start leaking through, but that's why it's called a stromboli. Stromboli in Italian means volcano, so don't freak if you see some cheesy-lava leakage.

6.  Once the stromboli is ready, remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool down a little before slicing. I've found that when I cut into it immediately after taking it out of the oven, the melted cheese runs all over the place. Give the stromboli about 10 minutes before cutting into it.

7.  Cut into 2" wide slices, serve to the gang and show a little RE2PECT to The Captain.

Thanks Derek!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bacon Deviled Eggs

As the temperatures around a lot of the country are cooling down, the football season is warming up. Week 2 had its share of interesting moments. Injuries were a factor for some teams. They certainly were a factor for my fantasy teams (don’t even get me started on that). We’re beginning to get an idea what direction some teams are going in, which might or might not be a good thing. But I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet. There’s lots of football left and lots of excitement to come. Hey, we even had a Johnny Football sighting! We’re rollin’!

We all know that bacon can elevate anything you make to another level. Bacon and eggs is a classic combo, so why not devil it? Well I did just that and the gang wolfed them down. I guess they liked them! People don't want to admit that they dig deviled eggs, but when they're served at gatherings, they always seem to disappear. Just watch when you roll out these guys.

My preparation took a bit longer because I created a bacon mayonnaise the day before to give the bacon a chance to really infuse the mayo. You can hard-boil your eggs the day before as well, then all you’ll have to do is mix and assemble the eggs right before your crew comes over.

Bacon Deviled Eggs                                                                                                                       (makes 24)

1 dozen eggs (hard-boiled)
4T bacon mayo (recipe below)
2 tsp brown mustard
1 1/2 T cider vinegar
salt & pepper to taste


1.  Cook eggs until hard-boiled. Let cool (can be made the day before and refrigerated). Slice in half and pop the yolks into a bowl.

2.  Add the bacon mayo. Mustard, cider vinegar and salt & pepper.

3.  Mix well. Adjust ingredients to suit your taste.

4.  Spoon or pipe egg mixture back into the egg whites and sprinkle with reserved bacon bits.

Bacon Mayo:  cook 5 strips of bacon until slightly crispy. Let cool and place in a food processor. Process until minced well. Remove 1 tablespoon of the minced bacon and save for the garnish. Add ¼ cup of mayo and process until well mixed. Place in a small container and refrigerate overnight.

There you go! Hope you try it and let me know the reviews!

Join me next Wednesday for more game day recipes and ideas!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Spicy Meatballs!

Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books. How did your team do?  How about your fantasy team(s)? Do the Seahawks look like the team to beat this season or what? Did anyone expect the Dolphins to beat the Patriots? Were you biting your nails during the ending of that Steelers - Browns game? If your team pulled out a win, that's awesome. If your team didn't win fear not, there's a lot of football left, so get off the ledge and check out the recipe for Week 2...

Now who doesn't love meatballs? No matter how you prepare them, they're going to be a hit. You can never go wrong if you serve these little globules of happiness on gameday. A few years ago, my buddy Anita from Hungry Couple and I contemplated a meatball truck because they're such a popular treat. Unfortunately reality set in (along with unemployment) and it didn't happen. So instead I make the gang happy by serving up Spicy Meatballs for the games (and they don't have to wait on line to get them, either!).

I've taken my tradtional Italian family meatball recipe and spiced it up a little because spicy things are more fun on gameday. They're easy to prepare and roast up perfectly. The accompanying tomato sauce is also very easy and cooks up pretty quickly. You can munch on them as is, or in a roll or even as a slider. Like wings, you can make them ahead, freeze them and have them ready when the gang comes over.

Spicy Meatballs with Red Sauce
(makes 32 golfball sized meatballs)

2 lbs ground beef
2 eggs
1 cup of ricotta (whole or part-skim)
3/4 cup of plain breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp cayenne powder (more or less depending on how spicy you want them)
Salt & pepper to taste

Tomato Sauce:
24 oz tomato sauce
1/2 small yellow onion (minced)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 tsp cayenne (optional - if you really want to turn up the heat)
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste


For the meatballs:

1.  Pre-heat oven to 375-degrees F.

2.  Mix all the ingredients together until well incorporated, roll meat mixture into golfball sized balls and place on a non-stick sheetpan.

3. Roast until meatballs are browned (about 20 minutes) and the internal temperature reads 140-degrees.

For the tomato Sauce:

1. In a medium-sized saucepan, pour enough oil to cover the bottom.

2. On medium heat, add the minced onion, add salt and saute until translucent.

3. Add the garlic and saute until the garlic is slightly golden.

4. Add the tomato sauce, mix thoroughly. Bring to a slight boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

5. Add meatballs and heat through.

Serve with rolls - or not!

See you next Wednesday for Week 3 action both on the field and in your kitchen!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wings!! Gotta have 'em!!

The NFL kicks off it's season tomorrow night. Can you feel the excitement in the air? For the next 21 weekends, friends will be gathering at homes to watch their favorite teams do battle on the gridiron. They'll be hungry and thirsty. You need to be prepared!

Hot wings. You know 'em, you love 'em. Wings and sporting events (especially football) are the quintessential combination. It doesn't seem like game day unless you have hot wings. Never be caught short with these little babies. Buy family packs of 'em, cook 'em ahead of time and freeze 'em. When the gang comes over, all you'll have to do is take 'em out and reheat 'em. They're a no-brainer.

There are a bijillion wing recipes out there. As time goes on, I will be sharing a bunch of those recipes with you. But this week I'm going to share my easiest go-to recipe with you: Basic Hot Wings.

This basic hot wing recipe is so simple, you can cook up tons of these little suckers with very little effort. First of all, I marinate the wings overnight in beer, which adds a nice little somethin'-somethin' in the background. Secondly, I don't add butter to the sauce. My rationale for omitting it is that I feel it's redundant. Wing skin is greasy. My recipe calls for roasting the wings, so the skin will not crisp up/dry up the way it would if you deep fried them. If you add butter to your hot sauce, then you're putting a greasy wing sauce on moist wings and it will not adhere. So I cut out the butter and voila - the sauce adheres! Roasting the wings gives you a moister, more tender wing. Basting them every 15 minutes while they roast not only guarantees that the sauce will stick but it also intensifies the flavor.

You can use any brand hot sauce you like. It depends on how hot you like 'em. It's all up to you.

Basic Hot Wings
(serves 4)

3 lbs chicken wings
(2) 12oz bottles of lager or ale (if using non-alcohol beer, go with a dark beer)
22 oz of your favorite hot sauce


1.  Place wings in a gallon-size Ziploc bag. Add the beer. Close top and place in the refrigerator overnight (or at least 2 hours if you're tight on time).

2.  Heat oven to 375-degrees.

3.  Remove wings from bag and let drain. Pat wings dry and place in a large non-stick roasting pan (you can also use non-stick baking paper or non-stick aluminum foil)

4.  Give the wings their first baste with the hot sauce and place in the oven.*

5.  Baste wings every 15 minutes for 1 hour. Turn the wings over the last 15 minutes of roasting and hit that side with the hot sauce.  If you want your wings crispier, keep them in the oven an extra 15 minutes without another baste, but watch to make sure they don't start to burn.

6.  Place in a serving bowl or on a platter and watch the gang suck 'em down....

*NOTE:  To avoid raw chicken contamination, use about 1 cup of hot sauce for the first baste in a separate container. Once you finish the first baste and place the wings in the oven, get rid of that sauce and thoroughly wash your basting brush (you can use a second brush, if you want). Both were in contact with the raw chicken and you don't want to keep using that for the other bastings. For the second basting on, you can use the same hot sauce and brush.

And there you have it!  Hope you enjoy this recipe and I hope you enjoy the games! Check in next Wednesday for some more game day inspiration!